A group of specialized military veteran rescuers from Southern California left for the Philippines late Sunday to start rebuilding the devastated communities after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the region.
Philippines Relief: How to Help
Members of Team Rubicon packed supplies of food, water and medical items during the weekend at its El Segundo headquarters. The disaster relief organization is made up of military veterans who work with first responders.
Team Rubicon members have been to floods, earthquake-ravaged Haiti, war zones and other places in need of aid. They are expecting the worst in the Philippines, where Friday's typhoon might have killed more than 10,000 people.
"People are going to be dying of thirst as they're surrounded by water," said team member Jacob Wood. "There's a level of irony that's just truly tragic."
The death toll could rise when emergency crews reach areas cut off by flooding and landslides. Authorities said at least 2 million people in 41 provinces were affected by Haiyan, one of the most powerful recorded typhoons to ever hit land.
Team Rubicon will coordinate with a surgical team once they arrive in the Philippines.
"It's the idea that one event could take so many lives in one fell swoop," said team member Lourdes Teglao, who is from the Philippines. "You feel powerless to stop it.
"We're going to try to help at least rebuild the community. Hopefully, we leave it a little bit stronger."
The mission, Operation Seabird, includes 15 Team Rubicon volunteers from throughout the United States and three member of a Norway-based veterans volunteer organization. They will conduct search and rescue operations and provide medical triage in Tacolban (map).
The volunteers and a 17-member surgical team from Mammoth Medical Missions will treat patients at a field hospital.
The team assembled their own packs so they will be self-sufficient for several days after arrival.
The mission is Team Rubicon's first since deploying to Burma to provide medical aid for refugees in October 2012.